A very interesting day on the Lords Select Committee on Communications yesterday. In the morning we went to visit the nearly completed extension to Broadcasting House in Portland Place. The inside is magnificent, although by no means all fitted out yet. There will be a huge news room, and separate activities on the different floors around a dazzling atrium. There is a spectacular view from the top over the spire of All Souls’ Langham Place and straight down Regent St. There will be a consolidation of the BBC’s activities and buildings in the coming years. The cost is over £1bn, but – unlike that extravaganza the Olympics – it will last for decades. I am certain the interior will be judged a success, but am less sure about the curved glass exterior. Attractive in itself, but it does not seem to me to fit with the stately Portland stone and Eric Gill carvings of the art deco original, nor the Nash elegance of the Bath stone All Souls in front of it.
In the afternoon we took evidence from more journalists about investigative journalism and, by video link from New York, heard from Sir Harold Evans. In an impressive interview he reminded us of the great news stories of his time, the thalidomide disaster, the DC10, Kim Philby. It seems that the US press is less inhibited (in every sense) than ours, but he was quite optimistic that investigative journalism will still flourish, despite the economic difficulties of local newspapers and the increasing move to digital news. We shall see.